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Chapter Three


IF the preceding chapter on the Chinese character has any
general conclusion, it is that of the supremacy of the human
mind over material surroundings. Supremacy of the mind has
more than one meaning. It means not only the application
of human cunning to convert a world known to be full of pain
and misery into a habitable place for human beings, but it
implies also a certain contempt for mere physical courage and
strength as such. Confucius long ago condemned the Jack
Dempsey type of physical courage in his disciple Tziilu, and I
am sure he would have preferred a Gene Tunney who could
be at home in circles of educated friends as well. Mencius, too,
distinguished between mental labour and manual labour, and
did not hesitate to put the former above the latter. For the
Chinese had no nonsense about equality, and respect for
the mental labourers or the educated class has been an out-
standing characteristic of the Chinese civilization.

This respect for learning must be taken in a different sense
from that usually understood in the West, for, devoted as
some Chinese scholars are to their learning, the devotion
of some Western professors to their special subjects, sometimes
amounting to a morbid pride and professional jealousy, seems
to me much more impressive. The Chinese respect for the
scholar is based on a different conception, for they respect that
type of education which increases his practical wisdom, his
knowledge of world affairs, and his judgment in times of crisis.
It is a respect which, in theory at least, must be earned by
actual worth. In local as in national troubles, the people look
to him for cool judgment, for far-sightedness, for a better eix-
visagement of the manifold consequences of an act or decision,